There are many websites and apps to help whip your finances into shape. Here's Diana Clement's guide to the best of them.
A good starting point for Kiwis is government-funded website Sorted.org.nz. It has NZ-specific guides to personal finance along with a number of tools for financial planning and budgeting, tackling debt, home buying, KiwiSaver/retirement and investing and saving. This is the place to go for a very simple visual budget.
The big bad budget
Budgets are the single best tool in your financial arsenal to save money and worry less. Budgeting may be boring, but it is the only real way to squeeze more from your income and live within your means.
Most banks have basic online budgeting tools. The best budgeting apps are the specialist third party ones that load in your transactions automatically from your bank. Kiwi-based PocketSmith.com, which is used in 203 countries, is one of my favourites. The web-based software is smart and can learn from the payments you've made in the past.
There are many other NZ and overseas-based budgeting apps such YNAB.com and the Toshl app. This week I was introduced to honeydue, an app for couples to budget and spend together that has nifty functions such as reminding each other to pay bills.
If cash slips through your fingers you may need an expense tracking app such as Expensify, Receiptmate or Smart Receipts. With them you can photograph your receipts as you spend and categorise them. Some personal finance software such as WaveApps and Wally allow you to tag the receipts to your budget. Great as well if you need to track receipts for work.
Share trading and software go hand and hand. Sharesight is great homegrown offering that allows traders to connect with their broker and trade as well as monitor the market and receive reports throughout the year. Sharesies is a new app aimed at young first-time investors. There are also websites that allow you to buy managed funds online. These include Investnow.co.nz and RaboDirect.co.nz.
Financially savvy kids
It's good to get your children focused on finances earlier, to stop them ending up as kippers (kids in parents pockets) or kidults, who never quite fly the financial nest and require parents to bankroll them at every turn.
The more you can teach them now the better. A great app being adopted in primary schools is Banqer, a simulated bank where students in a class can take charge of virtual money and learn about income, expenditure and tax.
They get a weekly salary from their teacher, earn interest, have to pay expenses such as rent on their desk, and they can even buy property.
It's full of life lessons.
iPhone users who have primary/intermediate-age children ought to check out the Pennybox app. You can make your children pitch for jobs at home to earn money. They have to make requests to cash out their earnings.
Your financial providers' websites and apps
No matter where you bank or save, look up the relevant websites/apps and see the valuable insights they can give into your spending and saving. Booster KiwiSaver's app, for example, allows its customers not just to keep tabs on their KiwiSaver, but to monitor all their finances, including properties, credit cards, shares and debt.
Or an app/website might help you pay your mortgage off early. New Zealand Home Loans, for example, has a WealthNav tool, which allows customers to set goals and track their mortgage repayment.
In my articles in the past few weeks you will have seen mentions of comparison websites for power, broadband, mobile phone, insurance and so on. They include PowerSwitch.org.nz, Glimp.co.nz, and LifeDirect.co.nz. Compare, switch and save.
Although spending money on consumer goods is bad for your personal finances, you may as well shop around for the best prices on comparison sites such as PriceMe.co.nz and PriceSpy.co.nz.
To check your credit score, visit the websites of Centrix.co.nz, CreditSimple.co.nz (for Dun & Bradstreet ) and Equifax.co.nz. Or if you need to control your supermarket spend, try Our Groceries Shopping List app.
One day I hope the ultimate killer personal finance app will be developed that does all the above functions in one. I'd pay good money for that.
Diana's top 10